Battle for the Channel...

...the First Month of the Battle of Britain, 10 July - 10 August 1940, from Fonthill Media

Title: Battle for the Channel
Author: Brian Cull

Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1-78155-625-2


I am something of a fan of Brian Cull's books, and this one is no exception.  There are plenty of books on the topic of the Battle of Britain and of course most of us know that ultimately the RAF 'won'.  Alongside that headline though perhaps we overlook one of the points which the author makes at the outset of this book, that in these early stages there was one objective that the Luftwaffe did achieve.  Their attacks in these opening stages did effectively close the English Channel to British coastal convoys.  It was a while before they could resume, and then on a limited scale.

The book starts with an Introduction and a Preamble which sets the scene.  Following the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk, there was a real fear of a German invasion.  The British preparations for using effectively any aircraft that could fly, and aircrew who could fly them, were set to be employed in one form or another to attack the invaders.  A far cry from the quality of the squadrons of Spitfires and Hurricanes that most people associate with the Battle as it turned out.  This is then followed by 4 chapters, covering the four weeks of the period being examined by the book.  Week 1 , 10-16 July: Week 2, 17-23 July: Week 3, 24-30 July: and Week 4, 31 July - 10 August.  All of these present the stories of the events of each week, with individual accounts as well as official records, War Diary extracts and figures of losses and claims.  One of the things I particularly liked was that it includes accounts and details from both the British and German sides.  So, for example, an enemy bomber may have been claimed as damaged but we also then discover what happened to it, maybe crash landing on the French Coast or at their home airfield, and the fate of the individual crew members.  With detailed records, facts and figures throughout, this is a goldmine of very detailed information on the events of this opening month of the Battle.

As well as one section of archive photos, the book is rounded off with a number of Appendices which hold even more detailed facts and figures.  These cover the Rolls of Honour for 10 July - 10 August, listing the dead from both the RAF and the Luftwaffe with their name, unit, aircraft and the date they were lost.: Shipping Losses/Damaged, 2 July - 10 August: and finally, Merchant Navy Personnel Fatalities, 2 July - 10 August.

A very detailed account of the opening month of the Battle of Britain, and nicely balanced for looking at both RAF and Luftwaffe sides.  If you have an interest in the Battle of Britain and this early part of the war, I'd heartily recommend this one to you.